04/03/2012 Burma (Asia News) – Burma’s Catholic Church is happy that Myanmar’s by-elections went off without a hitch on 1 April, marking the triumph of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and Aung San Suu Kyi, who was personally elected with 80 per cent of the vote.
The Union Election Commission (UEC) announced that the main pro-democracy opposition movement won 40 of the 45 vacant seats. Results in five more are still pending. NLD sources said they are confident that they won in the four ridings where the party ran candidates.
Speaking on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Cambodia, Burmese President Thein Sein said that the weekend by-elections were free and fair, “conducted in a very successful manner.”
In her first address after the vote, the Nobel Prize winner hailed her landslide election victory as a “triumph for the people” that could mark the beginning of a “new era” for Myanmar.
Affectionately known as ‘The Lady’, Aung San Suu Kyi urged moderation on her compatriots. “‘Words, behaviour and actions that can harm and sadden other parties and people must be avoided completely,” she said.
Speaking to AsiaNews about the vote, the archbishop of Mandalay said he was happy about the outcome and by the way it was held.
“Since the start of the election campaign, it was clear that people loved Aung San Suu Kyi,” Mgr Paul Zingtung Grawng explained. “Everybody knew what the outcome would be if elections were free and fair as promised.”
“The people as a whole have high hopes for ‘The Lady’; they want her to contribute to the nation’s progress,” the prelate added.
For the archbishop, the Church can help lay the “the foundations of a strong nation,” especially in areas like “health care and education” since “Aung San Suu Kyi has called on everybody, religious and ethnic minorities included, to contribute actively in building the country.”
Mgr Francis Daw Tang, bishop of Myitkyina, in the northern state of Kachin, said this is an “important moment” for all Burmese despite the fact that in three Kachin districts elections were not held for security reasons, according to Burmese authorities.
“The situation was not so bad” to warrant postponement, and “Civilians are certainly not happy,” the prelate told AsiaNews.
“I hope the new politicians who will join parliament can work for the good of the country and that of Kachin people,” he said. “This vote can be opportunity for peace and improvements” in a region marked by months of clashes between ethnic militias and government forces. According to the latest reports, some 60,000 people have had to abandon their homes.
Anonymous sources in the Archbishopric in Yangon told AsiaNews that whilst the elections are important and optimism is possible, “we must wait and see what the government will do” because “so many things can happen”.